"taleS froM the trencheS

National Guard wife blogging about her adventures with three sons and the unexpected joys of Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS)
....um, yes. They are tears of joy. Really.

Our Squad

Our Squad

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Marriage Issues for Special Needs Parents

It was the same fight that my husband and I have had a million times.

It was not about money. We never fight about money.  Charlie and I like money and we wish we had more.  He does not have expensive "man hobbies" and I am not "high maintenance", as one can clearly see from that blurry mugshot in the right hand column.

For us, the most stressful part of our marriage is parenting a special needs child. Thankfully, we are in agreement on the basic concept:

    Pick your battles-

Let the little things go and focus on the big issues

    Divide and Conquer-

Make sure both partners get a break

    Carry on-

Allow the typical siblings a chance be a part of their own activities and interests 

So, since we truly agree on The War Plan, you would think that the battlefield would reflect that.


This is what a fight looks like in our marriage that is managing 

Smith-Magenis Syndrome.   

          (And I use that word "managing" loosely.)

Setting:  Inside a somewhat new mini-van.  It has handle-bar scars down each side and an invisible spot on the left panel ( Go here for that story).  There is always a faint odor of spoiled milk.

Cast: Charlie, me and our three sons.

It's a beautiful day and we are cruising down the road. 

Suddenly, without warning, Charlie turns on the radio. 

Garrett has a meltdown.

Me:  What are you doing?

I look at him as if he had lost his mind.  I reach down and turn off the radio.

Charlie:  I can't listen to the radio in my own van?

Me:  No.

Even though the radio is off, Garrett continues to cry from the third row.  Our two sons in the middle row have their headphones on and their eyes glued to hand-held video games.

Charlie:  My mistake.  I thought I was the one making the payments.

The temperature climbed at least ten degrees, so I reached over and hit the button on my window.

Garrett:  No!  NO!  Too windy!  TOO WINDY!!

Charlie has the nerve to look at me as if I just lost my mind.

Charlie: What are you doing?

He uses the driver's control button to move my window back up.   My repeated thumps on the passenger button cannot over-ride the driver's lock.

I make a mental note to research this annoying feature before our next auto purchase.

Charlie:  Why don't you just turn on the air conditioner?

Me:  Why don't I just sit here and roast?

I cross my arms and turn towards the window...the auto equivalent of storming out of a room.

We do not look at Garrett. We do not speak to Garrett.  Instead, we turn on each other like sworn enemies.

Garrett increases the volume of his cries. Mario and Luigi continue their go-kart race; oblivious to the war raging on around them.

Charlie starts to hum the theme to the old television show, "Good Times."  A joke he believes is still funny after eleven years.

I turn towards him and start to hum "War is Hell on the Homefront, too."

Charlie shakes his head and shrugs his shoulder.  Clearly, T.G. Sheppard humor is lost on a man that was raised in New England.

Finally, Garrett finds a Jack-in-the-box.

The sound of "Pop Goes the Weasel" fills the van.

Garrett starts to sing.

Garrett:  Round and Round.  Monkey, monkey, weasel.  POP!!!!

The only song that gets the Garrett Seal of Approval.

Charlie turns on the AC and reaches for my hand. We both claim that we were not really that mad.  And we wonder if we give Garrett too much "control" in the car.  Maybe we should "lay down the law?"  But how can Garrett gain control of himself in such a small confinement?

More SMS questions we don't have answers to, but we promise not turn on each other during the next go-round.

We even say it with a straight face.


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah...but we are driving on the right side of the road :)

  2. You make an oh hum squabble so amusing Teeny. I laughed and then I wanted to give you a hug! I could so clearly see you with your arms crossed looking out the window...

  3. Hey, so great to connect with you last night at Bombeck over dinner. And to think I almost sat at another table!! I love this post for your honesty and how you write the unvarnished reality about your relationships. Those we love see the best and the worst of us -- and it is true from their side, too. And, why do these arguments seem to happen in the car?? I've been through that so many times with family members. Thanks for the great post. Also, I saw your pic on Maddow (huge fan of hers) and glad that you are not canceling out votes this time! Best, Nancy

    1. It was nice to meet you too, Nancy! Even tho we have two entirely different households, we have SO much in common. Funny about the Maddow blog...my shortest post EVER, and it was re-tweeted 3,000 times. Probably has more to do with her following than my brilliant writing.


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